Mathieu Van Der Poel Could Be Out For Months Due to Back Pain

Jan 10, 2022
by Sarah Moore  
Van der Poel is going to have to turn it up a couple notches come Leogang.

Back pain prevented Mathieu Van Der Poel from competing in the World Championships XCO race in Val di Sole last August, and now Team Alpecin-Fenix has announced that Van Der Poel won't be able to defend his world cyclocross title later this month.

bigquotesBecause of my back pain I haven’t been able to reach my desired level since Le Tour de France. I just want that to be in the past. The only remedy turns out to be a longer rest period. So it would be foolish to interrupt this period again and still try to make it to the World Championships. We all agree on that. Even though it is very bitter – I have participated in the World CX Championships 10 consecutive times – not being able to defend my title in the States is a real downer. I'm not worried about the future of my career, but of course it frustrates me now not knowing how long this rest period will last. We’ll only set a date and goals if we can do so in a substantiated manner. Until then, I'll do what I can.Mathieu Van Der Poel

CyclingTips has further reported that it could be months before we see the 26-year-old Dutch powerhouse back racing. The injury Van der Poel is suffering from is called retrolisthesis and Van der Poel’s team doctor Guy De Schutter explained to Het Nieuwsblad that one of the discs in his back isn't fully functioning and needs complete rest to heal, something that will take some time.

bigquotesOne of the discs in his back didn’t fully function as a shock absorber resulting in less movement in his lower back. The ligaments and muscles around became overloaded and the disc itself inflamed. The problems started in the Tour de Suisse and were worsened by that crash in [Tokyo]. The systems in his lower back need a complete reset. Then we can start to put pressure on it again and only then we can start building on basic fitness very slowly and monitor that very closely. This process takes a lot of time so we are not putting a deadline on it.Alpecin-Fenix Team Doctor Guy De Schutter

The Alpecin Fenix team announced it signed Mathieu Van Der Poel for a further four seasons in September and the team supports is supporting Van Der Poel rest period and his recovery. Van der Poel has been part of the Belgian outfit for the past ten years and will continue to race in their colours until the end of 2025.

bigquotesThe Tour of Flanders on 3 April seems far away but is just around the corner. To build form you need seven to eight weeks and then you see it will be close. We won’t start to early and cause this pain to become chronic for Mathieu. That’s for the athlete Van der Poel but also for the person [behind the athlete] who hopefully has a long life ahead of him. As a rider Mathieu has a lot to win still but nothing to prove anymore. Of course we prefer one month of rest instead of three but we rather start two weeks too late than half an hour too soon.Alpecin-Fenix Sports Manager Christoph Roodhooft

We wish Mathieu Van Der Poel all the best with his recovery and hope to see him back racing all disciplines pain-free, including World Cup XC, later this season.

Author Info:
sarahmoore avatar

Member since Mar 30, 2011
1,197 articles

  • 160 8
 Crashes can cause back pain to really RAMP up
  • 15 2
 I just realised what the ramp joke was all about now ....god im slooooooow
  • 15 177
flag RedBurn (Jan 10, 2022 at 13:22) (Below Threshold)
 Vaccine caused myocardith whoop whoop ! N+1 shots take it !
  • 15 1
 Freeriding really is tough on the body.
  • 18 1
 @scott-townes: free-falling*
  • 41 5
 @RedBurn: gross. Go back to your swampy forums
  • 3 1
 Cold blooded!
  • 39 0
 As a 54yr old that has had 4 lumbar surgeries, including a 3 level fusion, and battled back pain since my mid 20s I really empathize with MVP. Hopefully he can kick it and get back on the bike cause I can watch that dude ride any type of bike all day long.
  • 3 1
 29 now, had o surgerys but 400 PT sessions minimum. Lower back pain is crazy bad.

I believe that 20 min mild walk or run + sauna, Few exercises will help
  • 3 0
 I feel this. I currently am dealing with a herniated C5, C6, and C7 vertebrae that's causing partial paralysis down my left arm. I have also herniated my L4 and L5 about 12 years ago. Spinal injuries suuuuuuuck.
  • 2 0
 @jomacba: you getting surgery or healing with PT? Ive got the same herniations but right arm...
  • 2 0
 @phazedplasma: Currently PT. I have an upcoming MRI appt and a meeting with a neurosurgeon to evaluate the best path for recovery. I am using a Compex EMS machine on the parts of the arm that don't function 100%, and to strengthen the tissues around the vertebrae in hopes it helps alleviate the pressure points.
  • 2 0
 I have two compression fractures from a road bike wreck that almost paralyzed me. I'm off the bike for 6 more months. I have a small taste of how frustrated MVDP must be feeling
  • 2 0
 @jomacba: I just had C5-6C6-7 disc replacement surgery. immediately after surgery pain gone. Strength of left tricep 8x's stronger than right, now 7 weeks out 7/8 as strong. If you are a candidate I highly recommend it.
  • 1 0
 @krpduner77: I won't lie, this is something I am definitely interested in. I'm just concerned about the durability of them. I also compete in grappling, and I don't want to give that up.
  • 1 0
 @jomacba: I am a Physical Therapist and have seen them for over a decade with absolutely no issues. Just like a knee or hip I feel they last for life. The surgeon is a good friend and we talked about durability, specifically me crashing MTBing and landing on my head etc and he felt there are no issues at all about durability etc. Also its nice to be able to look up and descend a trail without my arm going numbSmile
  • 1 0
 @jomacba: I had to stop doing BJJ a few years ago because I have lumbarization, which I don't think is treatable.
  • 2 0
 @krpduner77: Hmmm, I'm intrigued. I appreciate the insight. I have a meeting with a neurologist in the next week here to discuss options.
  • 1 0
 @hamncheez: That sounds painful. What are your symptoms?
  • 2 0
 @jomacba: I "throw my back out" if I roll several days in a row. Its severe back pain, with spasms. Doing daily stretches, especially calf stretches, can make it manageable, but I still stopped going to my local gym (and now I have two broken vertebrae that has an unknown recovery)
  • 2 0
 @hamncheez: Damm!!! That sucks!
I dealt with similar issues when I had my lowe back injury. I eventually recovered 100% but it took nearly 8 years.
  • 1 0
 @krpduner77: you had both at once? Im a candidate for 6/7 replacement. How long till you were back riding? Did you try PT prior?
  • 2 0
 @phazedplasma: I had both done at the same time about 7 weeks ago. I started riding flat roads on the MTB at 3 weeks per MD clearance and a week later fire roads, steep climbs included a week later. Im up to about 3+ hour on MTB without pain or limitation. I have done some single track descends over the last couple weeks with decreased speed that I feel comfortable having a get off I can avoid falling on my head. MD says the repair is stable and safe just soft tissue that would get painful. I had no pain day 1 and full ROM by 3-4 weeks without pain. I am lifting pretty moderate now but had a 10# restriction for the first month or so. Sleep any position I want, only limitation is I fatigue on the computer in the traps a little but no big deal.
  • 26 5
 Wonder when he'll be Back in action?
  • 14 0
 His disc just need a break.
  • 4 0
 you can do it put your back in to it -says ICE CUBE
  • 1 0
 @lkubica: wonder if he’s cleared to train in rim brakes?
  • 4 1
 I saw him hurt it because I was spine on him
  • 13 0
 26 and a back injury sucks. Hopefully he can heal and get back at racing at the same level without a lifetime of pain.
  • 6 0
 Agree, someone should get him a bike with real size wheels.
  • 3 0
 @greg-may17: Uuuuuggggghhhhh... Smile
  • 7 0
 wout and piddock are going to clean house in the coming months. sucks because it was building to be a great battle to watch the three of them go at it across multiple disciplines
  • 4 0
 Wout's CX season is already over. He did 10 races (won 9 of them) and now started the preparations for his road season. Pidcock will be the only one of the big 3 starting at CX Worlds.
  • 7 0
 Think the puns here are in mildly bad taste. The three of those riders are arguably once in a generation and it really sucks not to see the three of them battling at full fitness.
  • 7 0
 I think Bender had that also
  • 2 0
 "Van der Poel's early Tour de France exit not good for cycling, , He should have prepared for the Olympics in a different way " says five-time Tour winner says Eddy Merckx .Cycling news July 06, 2021
Hope he is healing well and will come back soon .
  • 4 0
 Eddy has an opinion on everything.
  • 5 0
 Hope he gets well before XC season. Whatever you may think of him he does make things interesting.
  • 2 0
 I wonder if there are some training changes that he will be able to implement to address this in the future. I am not super familiar with how road/cross cyclists train, but I've noticed adding more weight training to develop strength and mobility (especially in the posterior chain) has really helped reduce my back pain. I imagine with the volume they do in a bent over position on the bike, pro road guys must struggle with muscle imbalances and low back pain.
  • 1 0
 Bummer, I have tickets to the World championships and was hoping to see a MVDP and WVA battle. Still worth the trip of course and hope he recovers well, he's definitely a favorite of mine to watch
  • 3 0
 that sucks, hopefully he is back in time for the classics.
  • 2 0
 Getting a drop wrong can wreak havoc.
  • 2 0
 He's just getting older. That's normal. Wink
  • 1 0
 Jeffrey Herlings already called him.. Told him to suck it up.. you are dutch.. deal with it..
  • 1 0
 Going to hard can hurt you.
  • 2 0
 Where is hard?
  • 2 0
 Every middle aged dad:
  • 1 0
 recumbent bike world tour champ next...
  • 1 0
 Ride with steel Wink . stay strong man
  • 1 0
 There’s always ebike racing
  • 1 0
 He's young, strong, he'll bounce back, IF he rests completely
  • 1 0
 Well that really sucks
  • 1 0
 One hell of a hangover!
  • 3 5
 Go see Dr Guy Voyer ( in France, he's the only one in the world to not only treat you correctly but get you back on the bike asap!
  • 1 3
 If he would have crashed during Olympics he would have for sure won Quick recovery
  • 5 6
 He'll be BACK in no time, REST assured.
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